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Great Blue Hill
Great Blue Hill from Trillium.jpeg
View of Great Blue Hill from the southwest
Highest point
Elevation 635 ft (193.5 m)
Prominence 483 ft (147 m)
Location Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Parent range Blue Hills
Topo map USGS Norwood

Great Blue Hill, also known as Massachusett, is a hill of 635 feet (194 m) located within the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton and Canton, Massachusetts, about 10 miles (16 km) south of downtown Boston. It is the highest point in Norfolk County and the Greater Boston area.

The modern name for the hill was given by early European colonizers who, while sailing along the coastline, noticed the bluish hue of the exposed granite faces when viewed from a distance (due to Riebeckite). The Blue Hills' eastern slopes face the ocean and lie within Quincy. The area once attracted quarrying for its "blue granite".

The name of the Massachusett Indian tribe and their language (and thus the name of the Bay, Colony, Commonwealth/State, etc.) derive from the Massachusett name for the hill: massa-adchu-es-et, where massa- is "large", -adchu- is "hill", -es- is a diminutive suffix meaning "small", and -et is a locative suffix, identifying a place.


The north and west sides of Great Blue Hill drain into the Neponset River, and thence into Boston Harbor. The south and east sides of Great Blue Hill drain into the Blue Hill River, thence into the Farm River, Monatiquot River, Weymouth Fore River, and into Boston Harbor.

Its summit is the highest point in Norfolk County and also the highest within 10 miles of the Atlantic coast south of central Maine. For this reason, American meteorologist Abbott Lawrence Rotch chose Great Blue Hill as the site for an observatory, which became known as the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory after its completion in 1885. Rotch conducted ground-breaking studies of the atmosphere at Blue Hill for many years, and meteorological data is still gathered at the site. From the Eliot Tower at the summit, the city of Boston and many of the surrounding hills of the Milton and Canton area are visible.

Other information

Great Blue Hill, and the Blue Hills Reservation in general, is a popular hiking destination, valued as much for its splendid trails and views as for its proximity to the metropolitan area. There is also alpine skiing available at Blue Hills Ski Area, consisting of eight trails served by a double chair and two surface lifts.

The well-known Boston public television and radio station WGBH takes its call letters from Great Blue Hill, the original location of the station's FM and TV transmitters. WGBH-FM still transmits from the site, though the TV station moved its antenna to a taller tower in the 1960s. The NOAA Weather Radio station serving Metro and Greater Boston and adjacent coastal waters, KHB35, also transmits atop the hill.

In 1980, the hill was the subject of a prank by WNAC-TV's news department, where it was alleged that the former volcano was erupting.

Great Blue Hill and the Blue Hills Reservation is the last remaining area in Greater Boston where the timber rattlesnake and copperhead can be found. The snakes are so rare in the state that they are rarely encountered by people. They are both considered endangered, making it illegal to harass, kill, collect, or possess.


  • The Blue Hill Observatory homepage
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